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May 31, 2016 / 23 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘heart’

What if the Siren Goes off When I’m Alone?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I’m in the office today until late. I spoke to Aliza shortly after she came home. I explained I’d be here for a while, at least. She’s home alone until my husband returns from work and some errands.

“Ima, what if the siren goes off when I’m alone?” she asked me.

“Go quickly into the bomb shelter and close the door,” I told her, my heart clenching at the thought of her in a  bomb shelter alone.

“I’ll take my phone with me,” she said, and I quickly agree.

“I’ll call you right away and you can call me,” I answer back.

“Can I take Simba in with me?” she asks. Simba is our dog.

“Of course you can. That’s wonderful. You take care of Simba and call him into the room.”

What world do we live in that a 12-year old has to consider going into a bomb shelter alone? If I could leave now, I would but Al Jazeera English contacted me and asked me to be on their show. Check out my next post on that…

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula R. Stern

Our Friend, Adversity

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

It is painfully difficult to start and end the hectic day seeing my daughter wander, almost lifelessly, from room to room and sibling to sibling with no desire to venture out into the scary world of society. With her bundle of strengths and weaknesses, and despite my countless pep talks, our 27-year-old daughter chooses to spend most of her time in the comfort and safety of our home. That is until recently, when terrible loneliness finally pushed her out the door.

With many children in the family, our daughter could always manage to find a sibling, at one point or another, throughout the day to hang out with indoors. Her minor attempts in childcare employment were sporadic, as hurtful memories of jobs gone sour haunted her. She felt paralyzed and refused to take another risk at entering the workforce.

I decided to seek help from a kind community social worker who gave freely of her time away from her busy schedule to help improve our daughter’s quality of life. Meanwhile, during the summer months, two younger daughters traveled to Los Angeles and a younger son went away to overnight camp – leaving our older daughter painfully lonely.

Over and over again she called me at work and I would urge her to at least volunteer at the Center for Special Children, where she had once worked part-time in the afternoon so she would not have to be alone. Finally, one morning it happened. With the quiet at home too much to bear, my daughter called me to say that she was taking a taxi to the Center. I was overjoyed. The only thing worse for her than the challenge of being around other people was being absolutely alone at home.

The following days were filled with trepidation for all of us. Would she give up or would she forge ahead? Would the memories and fears destroy her desire and courage, or would she be able to take the risk and continue to show up at the Center? Would she be able to function despite the pains in her chest and the fear in her heart? I spoke to the directors at the Center a few times, encouraging them to make sure our daughter knew how much she was valued and liked. I bought her new clothes and coffee drinks to encourage her. She even went out to dinner with my husband and me on our wedding anniversary so we could help build on her success.

Baruch Hashem, a wonderful thing happened! She thought of bringing her keyboard and offered to play and sing for the children. They loved it. She was an instant success. Seeing my daughter smile and hearing her happy voice report the experiences at the Center are more nachas than I could have ever hoped for. It is a new life for us.

Adversity forced our daughter to confront the absurdity of doing almost nothing all day and relying too much on others for her own satisfaction. Hardship can lead to growth and change. Not everything should always be pleasant and easy. If we are to reach our potential we must be prepared to take adversity by the hand and see what is being asked of us. This is also help from Above, sometimes the best help of all.

I daven that my daughter will continue to play her many self-taught songs on the keyboard, which will give her the wonderful satisfaction that she has something worthwhile to contribute. Her joy lifts our family higher. May Hashem continue to guide us and help us achieve what we have been uniquely created to accomplish.

Jodi Jakob

My Great Grandmother

Monday, November 19th, 2012

If you look up the word “role model” in the dictionary you will find the following definition: “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.”

This is the ideal description of my great-grandmother. To me, she is more than just an ancestor in my family tree, she is the epitome of inspiration. She has proved herself to be a rose among thorns and a woman of valor. I am genuinely proud to call her my grandma and I am so blessed to have such an awesome person in my life.

“You don’t have to be a ‘person of influence’ to be influential. In fact the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they taught me,” (Scott Adams). If I had one hour to be with the person of my choice it would surely be my Grandma.

In May 1911, a very special being came into existence. Her name is Paula. Back then, she was just a decedent of her grandparents, but now she is the heart of the Felsenstein Family. Grandma’s loving nature and uplifting spirit is what makes people, including her family and friends, gravitate towards her. Although Grandma endured many difficult challenges throughout the years, she refused to be limited by circumstance. The long, arduous journeys that Grandma embarked on are ones to remember and pass down to the generations coming.

I can learn much about the act of giving and being selfless from my Grandma. Living in Germany she used to generously give food to the hundreds of people who lined up outside her door. Grandma and her husband owned a horse-hair brush company which also made hats for British soldiers. Both of their products were purchased by Buckingham Palace.

Grandma married young, and a couple years into her marriage the Nazis started gaining power. Grandma and her husband fled to England where they were assured safety, although their plan of escape was far from simple. They were forced to walk across mountains for days, at one point paying people to help them cross borders in the back of an ambulance truck. I am trying hard to visualize the kind of agonizing hardships they’ve lived through. And the truth is, I probably would not be able to handle it the same way they did. The amount of faith and belief they had is simply indescribable.

And the miracles. Before they left Germany, Grandpa put all his money in the bank, leaving everything behind. In 1945, when the war ended, they returned to Germany without a penny to their name. Then a neighbor called asking to buy their house. Grandpa went to the bank and discovered that all of Grandma’s jewelry had been stored in a safe under their name. Grandma and Grandpa were extremely grateful for the miracles Hashem did for them.

About 40 years ago, my grandparents moved to Israel, where Grandma continues to live as a widow.

My desire and longing to be with my Grandma right now grows stronger and stronger each day. At 101 years old, my Grandma is the strongest lady I know – mentally and emotionally. Despite her old age, Grandma is constantly helping others and imprinting the lives of many with her inspirational and motivating stories. I strive to be like her in the way I live my life and hope that one day, when I have kids, they will live that way as well.

A wise man once said, “Someone who influences the thoughts of the people around her influences all the times that follow.” I love and cherish my Grandma unconditionally.

Goldy Felsenstein

Drawing with Rockets

Monday, November 19th, 2012

In years to come, when peace reigns, maybe sky drawing with rockets will become its own art genre. For now, these appear to be the trails of Arab rockets shot at Israel and the Iron Dome rockets that rise to meet them. And together they form a Star of David.

We could try for a crescent moon, I suppose, but it would take many more rockets on either side…

Incidentally, I got this photo from our correspondent Lori Lowenthal Marcus, who tells me she saw it on an IDF re-tweet, so we both hope it’s real. Otherwise it’s just a cheap shot.

Should break some Arab terrorist’s heart, though…

Yori Yanover

The Ache in the Heart

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

I wrote once, long ago, of how having a son in the army changed your relationship and part of being a parent is accepting that relationship and going with the flow of it. One of the things I noticed early on was that I was more aware of the ache inside me when my sons were not home. When you first have a child, you are still connected to them in many ways. You feel, sometimes before they even let you know, that they are hungry or they need you.

Over time, the incredible connection that began when they were within you stretches. At first, you are with them almost 24 hours a day; slowly it becomes less intense. They learn to crawl, to walk, to run. They go to school and friends and you become two human beings – there’s a connection, of course, but you don’t feel them as deeply as you did before.

Hours can go where you concentrate on other people and other things. It was a shock to me, initially, to find that after Elie went into the army, a part of my heart and brain remained engaged with his well being. What I mean is, it was like a dull nerve always being pressed. I was constantly aware that he was out of reach, out of contact.

Though there were times he was in more danger than others, that feeling of connection, of worry, never went away unless he was at home. Only then did I feel that I could turn my phone off over the weekend, sleep deeply etc.

When Shmulik left the army, I thought that I had finally earned a full night’s sleep; peace in the heart and mind and soul. When Elie went into the Reserves, here and there, the connection didn’t come back and I thought maybe I’d moved past it, come to terms with this army thing.

When Shmulik married last year and Elie married this year, I accepted that my relationship with my sons has changed. Each has a wife that needs to take priority in their attention. Sure, I’m still their mother, but it’s a background position.

Moments after Elie left last night, I knew that he hadn’t really left. I feel that ache deep inside, that feeling that he’s missing and I can’t be complete without him home – even knowing that that home isn’t really mine anymore. His home is his apartment with Lauren and she’s missing him and worried and going through so much and more of what I feel.

At one point, half joking, and half not, I said to Amira, “I don’t want to do this again. It wasn’t fun the first time.” I think we both laughed but the truth is that I don’t want to do this. I don’t want him to go to war. I don’t want him there. I just don’t want it.

And the second truth is that this is going to happen. I finally spoke to Elie hours after Shabbat had ended. I was so grateful for the call. I had expected to hear about him from Lauren (and he called her hours ago and she was wonderful and called me right away). It was so nice of him to call me too – I’d needed it more than he’ll ever know.

He’s still on a base, waiting to be moved south; still preparing. The Israeli Air Force has done a tremendous job of laying the foundations of the ground invasion that is likely to come. No nation can withstand hundreds of rockets being fired at its cities. Hamas chose this battle and Elie and so many others from this neighborhood and throughout Israel are preparing, at this very moment, to respond to that call to battle.

It will not be easy. It will not be short but maybe this time the leaders of Israel will realize that we have no choice but to finish what was started 4 years ago.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula R. Stern

Light In The Face Of Darkness

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

As I write these words I am still in my new adopted home. Originally I came to my wonderful friends’ warm apartment with the intention of staying just overnight and I did not even bother packing. My children kept pressuring me – “Ima, you have to go!”

My daughter who lives just a few blocks from me was going to move in with a friend who had a generator and she asked that I come with her. But I planned to wait Hurricane Sandy out. I was confident that while it would be a very intense storm it would not require evacuation. Just the same, all my children kept pressuring me. “Ima,” they pleaded, “you cannot stay in the house.”

My son who lives in a neighboring community was going to Brooklyn to my children there. Baruch Hashem, they all have large families, children and grandchildren. Their houses were full but they lovingly insisted I join them. I was debating in my mind what to do when my very kind talmidah – my Torah daughter – called and begged that I come to her. Not wanting to place added pressure to my children, I decided to accept her loving invitation.

When morning came it was not the dawn’s light that awakened me but the nightmarish news that my community and countless others were under attack by the merciless Frankenstorm that was leaving total devastation in its wake. I heard that ten feet of water flooded the lower level of my home but that was the least of my concerns. There was only one concern in my heart, and that was for my children who stayed behind and the countless other children and families there. I kept repeating to myself, “Ribbono shel Olam, Ribbono shel Olam.” Every few minutes I called my children, though usually I could not get through.

So it was with a trembling heart and tears flowing down my face that I davened and then davened some more. As the days passed and more and more painful and horrific stories emerged, my tears and my fears also increased.

Many of you know that every Thursday night I teach Torah at the Hineni Heritage Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was now Wednesday and the immediate dilemma facing me was whether we should close down or keep our doors open and the classes going.

It wasn’t a hard call. Of course we would have to stay open. If ever there was a time we had to gather together, it was now. It did not matter how many or how few would come. We had to raise our voices in prayer, with Tehillim and the study of Torah. No matter what is going on around us, davening and Torah study must continue. Those are our only weapons, our only salvation, our only hope for help.

I have had good training; I know from whence I speak. I learned in the best of universities that majored in cruelty – Hitler’s concentration camps. My daughter once said, “Ima, no matter what the topic, no matter what the situation, you always go back to those days of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.”

I had never been consciously aware of it, but as soon as she mentioned it I realized she was so right. Sadly, most of us who were there are no longer here to tell the story, and most of those who are here are elderly or infirm and can no longer speak out. So yes, I do go back and I do tell the story and I can never forget.

In that dire darkness, in that pit of hopelessness, my saintly father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, taught me to never to give up, never to forget that prayers can awaken the dawn and Torah can be brighter then the sun. Through Torah and prayers the sun can shine again and our worlds can be illuminated.

Our Sages teach us “ein doma – there is no comparison to that which you hear and that which you see.” My daughter, who was there with her family, saw the terror and devastation with her own eyes and experienced it with her own heart and mind. Next week I will share excerpts from her diary.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The Journey

Friday, November 9th, 2012

They say the flight went down, because it was too cold,
The weather had been changing, but i was never told,
Now I’m alone and I’m freezing, at the bottom of the sea,
There only was one parachute, and it wasn’t for me,
You always kept it, hidden in your heart,
A secret escape, you held since the start,
And i remember the start, the plane took off so strong,
Using skill and determination, to overcome when things went wrong,
But later you stopped driving, and the job was left to me,
With no co-captain at the helm, the plane fell to the sea,
Now I’m freezing, at the bottom of the ocean floor,
My heart begins to slow, and i am almost sure,
That a part of me is dying, a part nourished and grown,
Sitting here in silence, just getting used to being alone….

Tuli Wein

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/the-journey/2012/11/09/

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